The Children’s Authority is calling for members of the public to come forward with information to help catch a 35-year-old man who made sexual advances to an 11-year-old girl in a series of WhatsApp messages.
Screenshots of the conversation between the man, who is married, and the child were posted on social media.
In the conversation, the man promised the child that he would give her money, buy her a Samsung cellphone and meet with her for sex this weekend.
In one of the screenshots, it appeared that a parent of the girl responded to the man after reading the previous chats and told the sexual predator that a report was going to be filed with the police.
In a statement yesterday, the Children’s Authority advised parents and guardians to be aware that sexual grooming is a reality and a crime.
“Sexual grooming occurs when an adult befriends a child by building a close relationship in order to gain the child’s trust, with the intention of later engaging the child in sexual activity.”
The Authority said according to the Children Act, 2012, the person who commits such an offence is liable “to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for 10 years; or on conviction on indictment, to a fine of $100,000 and to imprisonment for 20 years.
“Parents and guardians are advised to get to know the adults with whom their child interacts whether it is in person or online.
“They should also pay attention to adults who give unwarranted gifts or want to spend time alone with a child. Children should also be taught not to give out personal information online,” the statement said.
The Authority said if a parent or guardian suspects sexual grooming, they should take the evidence and any information about the alleged perpetrator to the police and report the matter to the Authority’s hotlines at 996 or 800-2014.
“The Authority reminds the public that child protection is everyone’s business, therefore, we all have a role to protect children from perpetrators of abuse and nurture children in an environment that encourages their development.”
Acting ACP Radcliff Boxhill said from it was a criminal offence and action must be taken against the man.
“It is a child you dealing with and some don’t know how to deal with that. We may not understand how they (children) are thinking and no blame is to be put on the child,” he said.
Boxhill said from the conversations between the adult and the child it was evident the man was making attempts to groom her.
“The grown man is attempting to groom her. The Child Protection Unit will be called in and investigate and we need the Cyber Crime Unit to find the source of the device and the conversations.
“They can be found on the handset and there will be records,” he said.
Boxhill said the information was out on social media and he was confident the police will investigate and deal with it.
“To ensure appropriate action and this situation does not continue and send the message that this will not be tolerated towards children.
“It is a criminal offence and the police will deal with it,” he said.
Users on social media expressed outrage after reading the conversations posted between the child and the man on WhatsApp.